Hong Kong’s Election Committee: with great power comes great responsibility – can members deliver?
- As the centre of political power in Hong Kong, the Election Committee and its members are expected to become more vocal, especially about the chief executive’s policies
It was all quiet on the polling front in Hong Kong yesterday. The Election Committee elections came and went almost unnoticed. Yes, there were banners hung on the streets. And there was a bizarre incident just over a week ago when a woman snatched a stack of fliers promoting the new and improved electoral arrangements from lawmaker Eunice Yung Hoi-yan, who was passing them out on the streets.
Originally, the Election Committee’s role was expected to be downgraded: from selecting the chief executive to nominating chief executive candidates to be elected by the people.
Yet, it has gone from becoming a political relic to being the centre of political power. Now, it will not only nominate and select the chief executive, it will nominate Legislative Council candidates and has the political privilege to elect 40 lawmakers.
That’s 40 out of the 90 seats in the new Legco – twice the number to be directly elected by voters in geographical constituencies, and 10 more than the indirectly elected functional constituency seats.
So, things will not stay quiet for long on the political scene. We will begin to see Election Committee members becoming more vocal. We should also expect to see those who wish to contest the 40 Legco seats returned solely by the Election Committee to make their presence felt.
And it will be interesting to see how these aspiring candidates reach out to and garner support from different sectors.
One thing we know is that while they will need to raise their public profile, they may not have a support base in the local communities to help and run their election campaigns. They will need to engage the public and navigate the power corridors of the 1,500-member Election Committee.
There is also the shifting political dynamics of traditional parties vying for non-geographical seats. These contests will appear tame but, given the colossal changes made to the political ecosystem, these traditional political actors are going to fight for their space in this new configuration.
The Election Committee, with an extensive job description and a greater political stake, will be very much a part of the upcoming policy address discussion and beyond. It cannot be a front that remains silent because, however privileged, it cannot afford to be disconnected from ordinary people and the community.
Alice Wu is a political consultant and a former associate director of the Asia Pacific Media Network at UCLA